“I first got into the catering industry through my uncles who were in the RAF. One of them was a chef and I spent a couple of summer holidays as a teenager helping him out, so it seemed like a natural progression to join the RAF and move into catering. I did 12 years before moving back to ‘Civvy Street’ in London into restaurant management before retraining as a driving instructor.
“I moved back to my native Huddersfield and worked in pubs and restaurants before joining Bradford Grammar School as Catering Manager five years ago. My remit was to move away from as much processed food as possible and that’s what we’ve done. All of our sauces are freshly made, from our sweet and sour sauces to our chilli, and it’s all cooked on site.
“It’s been a journey with all the chefs because they were used to a certain style of catering. We’d make a kettle full of tomato sauce and I’d be telling them to put more salt in or more sugar and they would be concerned they were putting too much in. But this way we can control how much we put in. You can’t imagine how much sugar there is in processed sauces out of jars.
“We’ve definitely expanded the menu over the years. We used to just have ham, cheese and tuna sandwiches but now we’ll have anything from coronation chicken to a falafel wrap. We also make our own fresh bread every day and fresh street food, such as pasta. The salad bar has expanded three fold and I’ll always try and incorporate some vegan choices into the menu. It’s very seasonal, so you’ll tend to find more stews in winter and quiches in summer. It depends on the weather.
“I try to keep it interesting. There’s nothing worse than coming in for lunch thinking it’s the first Monday of the month, it must be … cottage pie. It stops the chefs getting bored and it stops the pupils getting bored to have a varied menu.
“There’s a few of us independent school caterers and we go around each other’s schools and have a look around the kitchens to see what we’re offering and eat lunch. I like to think the food we offer here is as good as you’ll get in the whole of the North of England independent school sector.
“What’s my favourite food? It’s probably Mediterranean food. I spent a lot of time overseas in countries such as Spain and Italy. There’s nothing like simple food using fresh ingredients. Give me a beef tomato, some mozzarella, a sprinkling of basil and a drizzle of oil and balsamic vinegar any day.”
“There’s a few of us independent school caterers and we go around each other’s schools and have a look around the kitchens to see what we’re offering and eat lunch.
I like to think the food we offer here is as good as you’ll get in the whole of the North of England independent school sector.”